Old Enough to Retire

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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On Eudora McArthur’s 100th birthday, she chose to celebrate at the school where she volunteered for more than 60 years. As the hall monitors wheeled Mrs. Mac’s cake into the storytelling circle, boys and girls from Mrs. Taylor’s classes began to chatter: “Look at all those candles!” “Are you really that old?”

Mrs. Taylor settled the children and a helper led Mrs. Mac to her seat of honor, a beautifully worn mahogany wood rocker with cushions quilted from fabrics of yesteryear. The guest of honor caressed the cloth cushions stitched with obvious care. She turned to the children and mouthed, “I love you.”

“Mrs. Mac, a hundred years is pretty old. What did you do to get that old?”

“By God’s grace . . . by God’s grace, I got to be one hundred years young,” the old woman said. “This living thing takes love, and acceptance, and faith. I worked hard and I did more than anyone asked. I prayed hard. And sometimes I took nothing and made it into something. I tried to keep a grateful heart and do the best with whatever blessing came my way.”

The monitor spoke up, “What about the no-blessing days? I remember you tellin’ us a story about some terrible times . . . like when people you loved died and there was only a little food.”

Mrs. Mac leaned forward. “Into every life some rain must fall. What you do with the rain is what makes a difference. You can keep on crying rivers of tears or you can work on reaching for the rainbows.”

Then the shyest student in the class stood up and walked to Mrs. Mac’s side. “Is it true that you are retiring?” the little girl said. “Are you old enough to retire?”

Mrs. McArthur’s loud laugh lasted a long time until it tickled everyone else. “Retire? . . . I am blessed with a young heart, a good mind, and a sweet spirit. With God’s help, I still have some powerful loving to give you . . . and anyone else who needs it!”

“But aren’t you tired?”

“Yes, sometimes . . . just like you get tired sometimes. But it’s a good tired ‘cause I know I gave my best. It is a good tired ‘cause I know I have tried to love everyone.” Mrs. Mac chuckled and added, “. . . in spite of themselves.”

The room full of 10-year-olds clearly understood. As if on cue, they crowded up to her chair.